Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Training Camp Tin Bits - August 11th, 2010

In the past I did daily updates from Camp, but this year's been too hectic and full of off-blog issues for me to be able to keep up with the other guys, so I decided not to do it this year.  However, today I would like to do a few ones as we lead in to the first Pre-Season game just to see where things stand as the selection process begins for the team that will take the field on Opening Day.
  • Let's start with the defensive backfield - a fan favorite discussion-wise.  Let's face it, a couple of years ago we didn't have much to discuss, but nowadays we have a very mixed back of youth, experience, size, speed and most importantly, talent.  The biggest concern to most of us is Sean Smith, the 2nd round pick from 2009.  Last year he blew up Training Camp/Pre-Season and was just so-so in the Regular Season, but did amass 16 starts.  This year he's looked pedestrian so far in practice.  I'm fine with that if it means his hot streak happens during the season - however we've heard multiple whispers that despite Will Allen's high level of practice, he has been seen limping on several occasions.  Not that I'd expect Allen to have to start if Smith doesn't win the job outright - I'd expect the two to share snaps in games until one starts going on a hot streak.  Meanwhile, rookie Nolan Carroll has been impressive especially considering he hasn't played football for a year, but despite the media and fans alike anointing him to the 53 already, let's not forget that no games have been played yet, and the  performance in the games is going to be the major deciding factor.  Still, with Evan Oglesby going down to injury, Carroll's biggest competition is Nate Ness, who has made a few waves himself.  The set players, Sean Smith, Vontae Davis, Will Allen, Jason Allen.  The favorite for the last spot - Nolan Carroll.  The darkhorse - Nate Ness.
  • The Quarterbacks - Chad Henne has gotten to the point where he no longer has to look over his shoulder.  He is the starter by name and now by performance.  While he still is making a mistake here and there, that's what practices are for - you make the mistakes there so you know not to make them during the games.  Tyler Thigpen was pretty entrenched in the backup role before Pennington came back, and it's still a toss up who the 2nd stringer will be.  Thigpen could've run away with it but he's been throwing a lot of interceptions in practice lately, keeping the door open for Penny.  I'm still worried about Pennington's shoulder/arm strength, but it sounds like he's still got his accuracy so that's good.  Pat White is done.  They have apparently stopped giving him snaps in practice - considering there's a pre-season game coming up, and he's not getting practice snaps in, well that only means one thing - they are holding him up from getting injured, which only means one thing - they're trying to trade him.  A few 3rd/4th string QBs have already been injured in Training camps around the league, and if anymore go down during the 1st week of the pre-season, then there might actually be a market, however small, for the services of Pat White.  For what it's worth, I can't imagine them getting more than a 6th for him, but there could be value in a player-for-player trade.
  • Special Teams - I've never been nervous during a game when Dan Carpenter lined up for a FG.  First of all, he's rarely had to boot a 50+ yarder, and secondly because he's one of the most consistent kickers in the league - still, it's a bit worrying that he's been missing a LOT of kicks from mid-range in practice this year.  Practice is usually when these kickers are booting 70 yarders and hitting 30 yarders blind-folded, etc.  Hopefully this is just a focus issue rather than a leg issue and it just goes to show that kickers should ALWAYS have competition in the off-season.  I suspect the team just couldn't find the roster spots to bring in another kicker and punter, but hopefully next year they won't make the same mistake.  I for one would've dropped a DB and a RB/FB by now in order to get Carpenter to get his act together via pressure.  Brandon Fields is one of those guys who tends to practice better than he plays, but he is not bad, just not an All-Star.  To be honest, since the Reggie Roby days, I've been dissatisfied with the Dolphins punting game, and Fields did do better in 2009 than he did during a horrible 2007/2008 period, so I should be optimistic.  Jason Allen is making this team folk, whether you like it or not.  He is our best ST player, and the bubble-esque status of Erik Walden, and Patrick Cobbs means he could be even more valuable.  That and the fact there's no way he gets beat out by 5 CBs on defense anyway.  I've already talked about the financial/age issues involved in a previous blog.  The Dolphins are unlikely to replace their proven ST ace with the rookie Nolan Carroll outright.  However, if Cobbs is not healthy, Carroll's chances to make the team get that much stronger.  The rest of the S/Ts will likely be made up of our young backups:  think Lex Hilliard, Reshad Jones, Tim Dobbins, JD Folsom, Austin Spitler, Quentin Moses, maybe even Patrick Turner (I doubt that one), and whomever the 3rd TE turns out to be.  No matter how hard I try I can't seem to work it out so that Charlie Anderson isn't on this squad, and I'm sure you know how I feel about that.
 Tomorrow we'll look at the following positions: OL, DL and RB.

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